Cinnabar is often used to describe a Chinese style of carved, vermilion-colored lacquer. However, cinnabar is actually the name of a red mineral, a form of mercury(II) sulfide, used to dye the lacquer. While most cinnabar objects are a deep scarlet hue, other lacquer colors can be achieved with different minerals, such as carbon for black and orpiment for yellow.

Though Chinese lacquerware had been produced since the 3rd century BC, carved lacquer was first introduced around the 14th century during the Ming dynasty. Lacquer was traditionally made using the resin or sap of the Toxicodendron vernicifluum family of trees found in southern China. Many successive layers of lacquer would be applied to a base structure, which was often made from wood, until the surface could be carved into complex geometric or figural forms.

Red quickly became the preferred color for lacquerware carvings, in part because the color has long been associated with good fortune in China. For the most elaborate cinnabar pieces, various colors of lacquer would be applied below its red surface layers, adding depth to a finished carving. While the original mercury-based pigment was toxic to humans, more modern cinnabar jewelry uses a resin-based polymer instead.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Asian Art Museum

Asian Art Museum

You can get happily lost searching through the 10,000 or so objects on the Asian Art Museum's website. For example,… [read review or visit site]

Gotheborg.com

Gotheborg.com

Jan-Erik Nilsson's extensive reference on antique Chinese porcelain. Jam-packed with information (e.g. on porcelain… [read review or visit site]



Most watched eBay auctions    

Rare Antique Chinese 19th Cent Cinnabar Lacquer Huge Carved Box Scholar Scene19th Century Chinese Cinnabar Lacquer Double Sided BoxStunning Rare Chinese Old Cinnabar Lacquer Tray Plate Qianlong MarkAn Unusual Antique Chinese Cinnabar Lacquer Box.Signed China Antique Dress Clip Hand Carved Cinnabar Enamel Flower B049Vintage Estee Lauder Cinnabar "lucky Rabbit" Solid Perfume Compact 1983Antique 20th Century Chinese Republic Period Fine Carved Cinnabar Lacquer Box**estate Carved Cinnabar Figure 28.4 Grams 2.30x1.4" Vintage Antique 1900’s Folk Art Cinnabar Black Carved Chinese Scenic PinSnuff Bottle - Cinnabar Lacquer With Turquoise, Jade, Agate Inlay - ChineseBeautiful Vintage Cinnabar Chinese Carved Lacquer & Enamel Bowl & StandVintage Estee Lauder Ivory "contented Cat" Cinnabar Solid Perfume Compact 1982Chinese Red Cinnabar Lacquer Jewelry Box W/lid-intricate Lattice Patterns10 Inch Hand Carved Red Chinese Cinnabar VaseCinnabar Ginger Jar Blue EnamelCinnabar Box Blue EnamelChinese Cinnabar Lacquer Brush PotChinese Antique Old? Carved Jade Cinnabar Lacquer Covered Box Asian China VtgFine Chinese Carved Lacquer Cinnabar & Blue Enamel BowlAntique Chinese Asian Large Early Cinnabar Charger Plate Signed3 X Antique 50-100 Layer Red Cinnabar Chinese Hand Carved Lacquer Vase Set StandAntique 5 Toe Dragon Chinese Cinnabar Bookends Mirror Image Heavy No DamageVintage 7" Chinese Red Lacquer Cinnabar Carved Vase Blue Enamel Excellent ScenicLot Antique Chinese Beads Carved Jadeite, Tourmaline, Silver & Sm. Cinnabar BoxVintage Chinese Carved Flower Cinnabar Gilt Silver Filigree Adjustable RingVintage 8 1/4" Carved Chinese Cinnabar On Spun Brass Vase, Pagoda, Mtns., LakeAntique Vtg Chinese Red Cinnabar Hand Carved Beaded Necklace 28 Inches Estate Pair Antique Chinese Early Rep Era Carved Cinnabar Lacquer Brass Enamel BoxesVintage Estee Lauder Cinnabar 1.7 Oz Perfume Spray DiscontinuedVintage Asian Carved Cinnabar Trinket BoxLot 4 Vintage Cinnabar Estee Lauder Perfume Travel Purse Spray40*14 Mm Antique Dzi Agate Old 9 Eyes Cinnabar Bead From Tibet *free Shipping*Estate Vtg Pair Matching Cinnabar Lidded Ginger Jars Urns On Stands Blue Enamel80*17 Mm Antique Dzi Agate Old 32 Eyes Cinnabar Bead From Tibet *free Shipping*Splendid Antique Cinnabar Lacquer Vase Carved With DragonsAntique Chinese Asian Large Qing Dynasty Cinnabar VaseEstate Vintage Chinese Cinnabar Bowl On Stand Lotus Scroll Figures Blue EnamelAntique Chinese Cinnabar Lacquer Box - 19c - Estate SaleEstate Fine China Chinese Hand Carved 2 Tone Cinnabar Lacquer Vase Scholar ArtRepublic Period Chinese Carved Cinnabar Lacquer Box W/ DragonVintage Chinese Silver Gilt Filigree Enamel And Carved Cinnabar EarringsEstate Fine China Chinese Hand Carved Cinnabar Lacquer Bracelet Bangle ArtMiniature Vintage Chinese Cinnabar Lacquer Black Bottom Buddha FigurineEstate Vintage Chinese Cinnabar Lidded Box Cherry Blossom Phoenix Blue Enamel79*17 Mm Antique Dzi Agate Old 6 Eyes Cinnabar Bead From Tibet *free Shipping*49*16 Mm Antique Dzi Agate Old Cinnabar Bead From Tibet ***free Shipping***31*12 Mm Antique Dzi Agate Old 2 Eyes Cinnabar Bead From Tibet *free Shipping*Chinese Antique Very Old Square Cinnabar Red Tick Box Asian ChinaWomens Vintage Mini Glass Bottle Estee Lauder Cinnabar Splash Perfume .22 Oz53*16 Mm Antique Dzi Agate Old Cinnabar 4 Eyes Bead From Tibet **free Shipping*39*13mm Oriental Vintage Unusual Tibet Old 6 Eyes Cinnabar Dzi Bead Freeshipping79*17 Mm Antique Dzi Agate Old 8 Eyes Cinnabar Bead From Tibet *free Shipping*Vintage Necklace Big Asian Chinese Carved Cinnabar Bead Hand Knotted Red26*12 Mm Antique Dzi Agate Old 3 Eyes Cinnabar Bead From Tibet *free Shipping*30*12 Mm Antique Dzi Agate Old 3 Eyes Cinnabar Bead From Tibet *free Shipping*40*13 Mm Antique Dzi Agate Old 7 Eyes Cinnabar Bead From Tibet *free Shipping*29*13 Mm Antique Dzi Agate Old Cinnabar Bead From Tibet ***free Shipping***38*14 Mm Antique Dzi Agate Old Cinnabar 6 Eyes Bead From Tibet **free Shipping*39*13 Mm Antique Dzi Agate Old Cinnabar Bead From Tibet ***free Shipping***29*13 Mm Oriental Vintage Unusual Tibet Old "s " Cinnabar Dzi Bead